Zumba Makes Exercise Fun

June 2012 View more

NMAG0612_FitnessNot many people associate exercise with fun. Therefore, any time a new exercise program is introduced to the fitness world, it’s a great opportunity to check it out and gauge the fun factor.

In 2001, the group fitness class Zumba, hit the fitness world with a potent punch. Eleven years later, Zumba’s momentum hasn’t slowed down, keeping students all over the world engaged and touting exercise as fun.

Zumba Fitness® is a Latin-inspired dance-fitness program that blends red-hot international music, created by Grammy Award-winning producers, and contagious dance steps to form a fitness party that is downright addictive, according to the Zumba Fitness website. Since its inception, Zumba has attracted more than 12 million people in more than 125 countries into joining the Zumba party.

How this party got started

Beto Perez was an aerobics instructor in California and one day decided to try a new kind of fitness class with his students. When he noticed the impact the music and movement had on his students, he knew he was on to something big. As a result, the Zumba® Fitness-party was born. He moved to Miami, connected with potential partners, and they set out to make Zumba an international success.

“The energy in a Zumba fitness class is off the hook! Imagine being at a club with your favorite friends dancing to fun songs and laughing throughout. It is the most fun you can have without feeling like you’re working out,” said Tom Lafser, a Naperville Zumba instructor since 2009. Lafser credits Zumba for his 107-pound weight loss.

“I started teaching Zumba because I loved the first class I took as a student,” said Emily O’Donnell, a Zumba Fitness instructor at North Central College and the Kroehler YMCA. “Zumba is different from other dance classes as far as the variety of music (primarily Latin, with Bollywood, hip-hop and belly dance to name a few) and the simplicity of the choreography. It is possible to dance 15 new songs in one night!”

Although the classes are mainly made up of women, men are also invited to join. The class energy is palpable–dancing to great music creates energy for both men and women.

Dr. Nadia Esmail teaches Zumba in her Chiropractic office in Naperville. “I really believe Zumba is a workout for those of us looking for an enjoyable way to workout. It’s something students will stick with because they look forward to it. We have so much fun, we sing, we shout, and we dance our hearts out. It feels like a party and we usually forget we are working out.”

During my aerobic days, I struggled to follow the very specific dance routines. With Zumba, there are no verbal cues – other than the enthusiastic shouts and giggles – it’s all visual cues. I liken it to “Follow the Leader.” Watching a Zumba class you can’t help but want to jump in, and yes, join the party. The beauty is that the classes are inclusive and inspiring. The instructors have students that range in age from teenagers to 70 years old. The best part – no dancing experience required.

“Zumba Fitness is the most fun you can have without feeling like you’re working out. Ditch the workout, join the party!’ says Lafser.

I’ve always encouraged my clients to find something they love, something they can look forward to so that exercise remains on top of their to-do list. Consider yourself invited to the party. Who knows, you may actually find yourself using fun and exercise in the same sentence!